Business World

Friday 23 March 2018

Oaktree backs Pat Doherty's Harcourt firm

Private equity group in debt deal

Pat Doherty
Pat Doherty
Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Pat Doherty's Harcourt Developments, one of the largest property companies in the State, has agreed a debt refinancing deal with US private equity firm Oaktree. The loans were made via Oaktree's Luxembourg subsidiary HRGT s.a.r.l.

Harcourt was one of Nama's largest clients, with a proportion of the firm's €800m in debt transferred to the state agency. In 2010, Harcourt's borrowings from three of its Irish lenders were moved to Nama under a second tranche of loan transfers. The company had estimated that "in excess of €500m" would be transferred to Nama.

Last year Harcourt indicated that it had renegotiated its debt with Nama and expected to exit the state agency by mid 2016. Harcourt's repayment of its Nama loans would see it join a number of prominent property borrower successfully negotiating their way out of the state agency's supervision. Johnny Ronan recently refinanced his personal Nama debt with Colony Capital and it is understood that Deirdre Foley's D2 Property is also free from the organisation. Sean Mulryan's Ballymore Properties is thought to be close to paying off all its Nama loans, following a joint venture deal with Malaysian group Eco World to develop a €2.8bn London residential scheme.

Pat Doherty is one of the country's more innovative property players. His Harcourt Group is behind the hugely successful Titanic Quarter in Belfast, which has regenerated a large swathe of the city's docklands, through the construction of the Titanic museum and Game of Thrones movie studio, as well as commercial, residential and retail schemes. Harcourt is a major hotelier, owning the Solis Lough Eske Castle in Donegal and the Wyndham Grand in Chelsea Harbour in London. His firm owns the five-star Carlisle Bay resort in Antigua. Harcourt is also involved with the operation of 40 Holiday Inn hotels in the UK as well as development projects in Las Vegas, the Bahamas and Jersey.

The Donegal man is one of the more colourful developers still operating. He appeared in the Beatle's Film Hey Jude in the 1960s He is a well known art collector and commissioned iconic British artist Lucien Freud to paint his portrait. Harcourt Developments was also an active backer of polo during the boom, sponsoring the Queen's Cup at the Guards Club in London.

US private equity group Oaktree, which has close to $100bn in assets under management, has become increasingly active in the Irish market over the last year. It has teamed up with Nama and Bennett Construction to develop a €450m office block and apartment complex on Dublin's Docklands. The scheme is being developed by Targeted Investment Opportunities, which includes former IDA chief Barry O'Leary, ex- Nama property head John Mulcahy and top Oaktree executive Justin Bickle. Property sources have also said that Oaktree has been buying up swathes of development land around Dublin, with a view to moving into house building. Sources have suggested that the private equity group could float its housebuilding interests as the market improves. Oaktree did not comment.

Sunday Indo Business

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business